Dr. Davalos earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Athens in Greece, and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Neuroscience from New York University. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Prior to joining the Lerner Research Institute and Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Davalos served as the associate director of the Center for In Vivo Imaging Research at the Gladstone Institutes and UCSF. He reviews for several scientific journals and funding institutions and maintains an active role in training the next generation of neuro-immunologists and glio-vascular biologists. He has organized and regularly participates in International scientific conferences, and currently serves as the program chair for the Spring Brain Conferences. He previously received postdoctoral and young investigator awards from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Heart Association and the Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. His lab is currently funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Dr. Dimitrios Davalos studies the neuro-immune mechanisms that influence the brain’s normal function, its homeostatic balance, and its structural integrity. He is particularly interested in microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, the spinal cord and the retina, the three major sites of the central nervous system (CNS). His research aims to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which microglia facilitate normal brain function, and regulate immune responses when the homeostasis or the integrity of the CNS are pathologically compromised. In doing so, his ultimate goal is to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention for neurological diseases.
During his graduate years Dr. Davalos performed the first in vivo imaging study of microglia, taking advantage of advanced microscopy technologies that allow following the behavior of individual cells inside the intact living brain, in real time. He demonstrated that microglia continuously survey the intact brain, and can rapidly contain small localized injuries within just a few minutes. These findings challenged prior views regarding the role of microglia in the brain, and inspired numerous new studies aimed at better understanding the mechanisms and the significance of such unexpected microglial abilities for neuronal development, plasticity, function, and dysfunction.
In recent years, Dr. Davalos has been studying microglial responses in the context of blood brain barrier disruption, a phenomenon that is very common among pathologies such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, and other neurodegenerative diseases. He has also developed and published novel methods for imaging the living brain and spinal cord to follow ongoing biological processes over time. His research combines cutting-edge imaging techniques with molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to study the interactions between blood vessels, neurons, and glia, and understand how their functional and structural relationships change between health and disease.